|A Tay family prepares offering for a New Rice Worship.
The New Rice Festival shows a religious belief that everything has a soul and people’s respect for the rice, the most important plant of the Tay as well as other groups.
The Tay choose a good day about 3 weeks before the harvest to wrap up a production year, offer the results to genies and ancestors, and pray the supernatural power for blessing them with good health and favorable weather.
Ma Van Khanh, a Tay man in Lao Cai province, said, “This is an old tradition to express gratitude to the ancestors. They brought us up and we will never forget their merits and our group’s history.”
A respectful shaman chooses a good day for all families in the hamlet to celebrate the New Rice Festival together. The villagers cut the biggest rice panicles in the fields, put them in a bow of water, and place the rice bowl on the altar.
They prepare many dishes from animal they raise and plants they grow. The main ingredient is rice to make pounded rice cakes, young glutinous rice fried cakes, steamed rice, and porridge.
The New Rice Festival is well organized to show respect for their ancestors who accumulated and transferred them rice growing techniques.
On behalf of the family, the shaman reads the prayer to thank the Rice Genie and invite the ancestors’ souls to come home to share the happiness of a good crop with their children. The prayer is presented via Then singing genre and Tinh musical instrument.
The shaman tells a story of the earth formation, rice growing techniques, and people’s effort and time to tend rice fields. He thanks genies for giving them rice and advises people to work hard and unite in production and life.
Nguyen Van Xiet, a cultural official of Lao Cai province, said, “We prepare offering on the altar to worship the ancestors first and then invite family members to eat together. We talk about production and what we gain in a year.”
The New Rice Festival respects traditional knowledge, honors the fruit of people’s labor, and preserves traditions in temporary life.